Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas

Once I'd opened my stocking and recovered from my hangover, Christmas morning began to look a little bit easier to deal with. I spent a lovely day roasting boar, drinking bubbly, munching on smoked salmon and opening a multitude of presents. It was a wonderfully relaxed day, with the food turning out tasty, the company cheery and the required silence through Dr Who.



On Boxing Day I woke up full of cold, something which I haven't yet managed to shift. Tom drove us out to my parents where we munched our way through goulash, whilst keeping myself breathing with the help of a stiff gin and tonic. It was another lovely relaxed day, with the usual banter and yet more fab presents. Unfortunately though, by five I was beginning to flag and so we came back to Brighton and curled up on the sofa to end Christmas with a quiet night in and a couple of glasses of wine.

It was lovely to catch up with friends and family and despite cooking for people, it was all thoroughly calm and unpressured. All the presents I recieved were wonderful and very thoughtful, and it has been so lovely to just spend time with my boy. I just hope I'm feeling better for New Years...

Friday, December 22, 2006

phew!

I've wrapped all the presents, I've put up the tree, I've put the tree up again once the cats had knocked it down, I've cleared the dust and cleared more dust from the plasterers and I've finished work until next year.


Tomorrow I'm going to pick up the joint of wild boar ready for marianading. I will
do this for approx 48 hours with red wine, ginger, chilli, bay leaves, garlic and onion and will also use this mix as a baste whilst I slow roast it on Monday. I'm then going to make the Biscuit Tortoni for the dessert, a frozen mixture of sherry, cream and biscuit that was my favourite for a number of years. I'm really looking forward to cooking again, having not had time to make anything resembling a proper meal for weeks now. The days of catching up on our working day over the oven have been few and far between and I've really missed the joy I get from concocting something heavenly.

I'm so looking forward to relaxing for the next week and a half. Christmas Day will be lovely and relaxed, and after that we're off to Mum & Dad's for Boxing Day. Lyndsey and I are off to the ballet on Wednesday evening and that is all I have planned until New Years Eve. It's such a wonderful feeling to know that I don't need to do anything for days on end.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

damp begone

It's with some frustration that I find myself boxing up books again today. Two months after moving in, I now have the damp proofing starting on Monday which means that I have to clear the area in front of the window. However frustrated I am at the reboxing, I'm grateful that they could fit me in before Christmas. The sooner the damp problem has been treated, the sooner I can decorate and also the sooner the smell will go. It's not an over powering smell, but it is there and I find it particularly noticeable when I first walk into the flat.

Until the initial work has been done, and the area can be left to dry off over the next few weeks, I can't put up any decorations. Great for my wifi, but having spent the day Christmas shopping, I find myself missing them. I want to put up my tree! I want flashing lights and baubles! But it'll just have to wait.

I am also having a think about how to move on with this blog. I have been writing another one recently, and I'm unsure whether I want to continue writing two or not.

Monday, December 04, 2006

dublin - fair city

We spent a lovely weekend wandering around the streets of Dublin, dodging rain drops and folding our collars up against the wind. On arriving we were welcomed with the wonderful news that our room had been upgraded to an apartment, giving us a kitchen and sitting room along with our Divine king sized bed. We headed out to lunch and a stroll around Temple and Grafton Street before an evening of Nepalese food at Monty's of Kathmandu and cocktails in the bar with the added excitement of a man dressed as Father Christmas, trying desperately hard not to set fire to himself whilst limbo-ing under a flaming pole.

Saturday was much the same, more strolling about in search of lunch before an evening of comedy (although some was distinctly unfunny and even a little scary) at Bankers, where keeping the audience under control seemed to be the main source of entertainment. We decided to head back for more cocktails, and perched by bamboo trees or perched on square seats under heaters, gazing up at the rain.


Sunday seemed to come around far too quickly, and a morning of an enormous breakfast, followed by sitting about recovering from it and reading the papers, was followed by our journey back to the airport and the unwelcome news that flights were being cancelled left, right and centre. By the time we left, on time, there was a general feeling of grumpiness from a number of passengers but there were no further problems and we landed safely only to be faced with the thought of buses from Three Bridges! I bit the bullet and decided that a taxi was the only way forward, so half an hour later we were greeted by very happy cats, a warm flat but with still that sad feeling you get at the end of a break.

I'd love to go back to Dublin, but with a record four holidays proposed next year, I suspect it may have to wait a bit longer!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

catching up

I headed out to the Cella last night to catch up with some of the survivors of Black Friday. It was fab to listen to the lovely Dominic VonTrapp and spend an evening drinking yet more cider and laughing at Amy's lady beard.



It's been a busy few weeks but I'm so looking forward to a weekend in Dublin. With only one working day to go, I can see the light and boy is it glowing. We've made no plans, except to visit a comedy night, and I fully intend to just enjoy being able to amble about aimlessly. It feels like such a long time since my last holiday, so many things have changed since July.

This evening I'm heading out for dinner with the lovely Katharine, something I haven't had a chance to do for ages and so am really looking forward to it. However, with a very busy day tomorrow I must stop myself from getting into that holiday spirit too early!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

lounging

Finally my beautiful sofa has arrived, and I am sat with feet up relaxing in a most comforting manner, marvelling at how I ever survived a month without one. It is enormous, in fact if I lie down there is still room at the other end, which is a most satisfying discovery. I suspect that any number of lazy days will be spent, sprawled out in comfort, book in hand, tea or gin and tonic within reach and head resting against cushions. Utter bliss.

Yesterday evening Tom and I popped into the Library to see the highly amusing Jon Ronson. I now have a strong desire to incapacitate goats with the power of my stare, but suspect I would have as much luck as the US Army. Still, I can but practice!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rain

It is glorious to be inside tonight, as rain lashes the window panes and races down in torrents from the guttering, splashing loudly on the patio. What better than to be curled up with the bears on their bean bags, or watching them chase a wine cork around the flat, a glass of gin and tonic and Bach to keep me company.



I managed leave early today and came home to nap away the afternoon. It has left me feeling much more able to cope with making soup for Lyndsey and an evening of champagne cocktails and series six of Sex & The City. I am, however, still slightly concerned about my boy who has gone off to London to be brain-washed by a cult. But then I suppose anyone would be a little apprehensive, wouldn't they?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

red and gold

I opened the car door this morning to the lovely early smell of autumn leaves, which coated the car park in their beautiful gold, yellow and red hues. It was glorious to gaze out over the roofs at the distant trees in Stanmer Park, russet red against the sky. This is one of the things I love most about autumn, those beautiful colours and the way the air suddenly starts to bite but is at the same time fresher and cleaner.

I want to pull on my wellies and kick up mountains of leaves, to splash through puddles with a scarf billowing out behind me, gloves pulled on tight and my nose and cheeks burning red against the chill. I want to set out on adventures mid way through Sunday afternoon, and come home in the dark to a glass of red wine and a bowl of home made soup.

It’s on days like today that I really miss living in the countryside.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

oh for decorating

I am beginning to find that being surrounded by boxes is taking its toll. I feel as if I can only look at half my sitting-room, I do my best ignore the piles of boxes or I get this horrible sinking feeling.

Fortunately though, I have an entire Saturday without my boy to go trawling around looking for light fittings, wallpaper, paint and the like which will certainly help me to see the finished product more clearly. Unfortunately I won’t be able to start decorating the majority of the flat until January, but I’m looking forward to at least feeling as if I’m making some kind of headway.


It is going to be odd having bare walls and dust everywhere for Christmas, but I’m relieved that the whole process will be over as quickly as possible. The sooner the damp proofing is done, the sooner I can get the place looking spick and span. Although I’m settling in as the weeks go by, the colours are definitely not mine; sparse and blank they remind me of hospitals or show homes. I can’t help feeling that until I’ve made my mark on the flat, it isn’t quite mine.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

a step back from it all

It has been one of those rare weekends of late mornings with pots of tea, wanders through the Lanes and afternoon naps. A glorious muddle of visits to friends and feasting on delicious food, with a spot of escaping from the world.

On Friday we popped in to see some presentations from local Flash developers at DScape, before heading off to Ben’s birthday gathering. We stayed, caught up with Dave and talked job interviews with Jane before heading off to munch our way through Japanese food at Murasaki. Saturday was started with a much-needed lie-in; followed by a lazy jaunt into town, lunch at the Fringe and a couple of hours spent in search of a shirt and a skirt. I managed to sneak in a nap just at the light faded, watching the darkness grow out of the window as I drifted off.

Saturday evening was pure and utter escapism, as we headed off to the Hanbury Club for dinner and an evening of black gloss chairs, gorgeous wallpaper and the fabulous feeling of being thrust back to the 30’s. It was perfectly relaxing to just sit there, tables far enough away to be unobtrusive, conversations not overheard, in our own cocoon of fabulous food, delectable cocktails and a beautifully crisp bottle of white wine.

Today I plan to spend immersed in books, with the occasional burst of tidying whilst I wait for the kettle to boil. I fancy a lazy day of slippers and warm socks, of curling up under blankets and keeping the outside world firmly on the other side of the double-glazing. Today is just for me.

Friday, November 03, 2006

of broken plates and scottish accents

Today I am glum, miserable and achingly gloomy. I feel heavy with weight, from the piles of work that surround me to the knowledge that I have to empty the dishwasher, a task which today seems insurmountable. I long for my duvet, to curl up, close my itchy eyes and let sleep wash over me. I long to nestle on my soft brown leather sofas, which of course have not yet arrived, thick socks pulled on and blankets on my knees with a pot of Earl Grey and an Agatha Christie. I long to be sat by an open fire, watching the sparks light up the chimney breast like miniature fireworks, breathing in the wood smoke and listening to nothing but the crackle and pop of the sap.

All these things seem so far removed from the dullness of my desk. Another day spent before it, bleak and utilitarian and offering up nothing to nudge my imagination. The chair makes my back uncomfortable and hunched, the table is cluttered with piles of applications that I can’t store anywhere else. And to listen to me roll off this catalogue of complaints is only exacerbating the glumness.

To make matters worse, my lovely new John Lewis plates have just arrived, and three out of four have been smashed into pieces on their way here. Fortunately I spoke to a lovely man, with a delicious Scottish accent named Kenneth (although in my head he is definitely Hamish) and a replacement set are on their way.


Oh for four o’clock when I can return home and bury myself under blankets and duvets and shut out the day until I am recovered enough from this misery to venture forth, in my new skirt and boots, to Gars with my boy. For most of all, today I want my boy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

a weekend of opposites

On Saturday morning, battling a slight hangover, we headed out to Crawley for Nig and Paul’s 30th birthday and an afternoon go-karting. We donned our boiler suits, pulled on gloves and helmets and set off around the track, adrenaline getting rid of my hangover at almost the same speed as the go-kart.

On the second run I
found myself in a four kart pile up which left me with a twisted and swollen ankle and a bruise on my left thigh which anyone would be proud of. A day later it is black and purple and spreading with ferocity across my leg. But it wasn't over yet, through my steamed glasses I saw the others zoom around the track and was surprised that the fast rate I was going was nothing in comparison. I was lapped and lapped again and found that the only thing for it was to put my foot down.

But seemingly minutes later it was all over, just as I was warming up. Our 45 minutes up and due to my lack of speed we finished second to last. Only slightly disappointed, I’ve now sworn to do it again, once my current injuries have healed.

Fortunately an evening spent in the Albert with many a pear cider followed by Chinese takeaway with Tom and Ben meant that my ankle at least, had recovered sufficiently this morning. A lazy day followed, spending time with the bears and strolling through the autumn sunshine to the Open House for roast chicken with bread sauce. Gloriously, I curled up on the sofa to snooze, dipping through the odd Asterix and Ian Rankin and watching the world go by. Just what Sunday’s are for.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

and rest

Here I am, stealing WiFi from someone, squeezed in between boxes with only a Mongolian cushion, a glass of warm white (there is no fridge yet) and the cats for company. But oh what relief! And what joy! I'm in! I have my own flat, home owner I am.

The move went remarkably well considering the rain we had on Friday. I completed at around 11am, quite unexpectedly and proceeded to load up the van with Mum and the lovely Pete, dashing back and forth from storage to the flat, hefting tables, the bed and television, but mostly (to my pride) boxes and boxes of books.

It was an evening of the traditional fish and chips, followed by champagne and a visit from the upstairs neighbours Lyndsey and Owen. We drank till the early hours, leaving me far too tired to think straight as I headed up to Ikea on Saturday to pick up the necessary essentials. I now have a multitude of glassware that leaves me ready for any occasion, and further bookshelves to store my beautiful books. However, I fear a reckoning has come. In order to buy more, I must get rid (she whispers quietly in case they hear) of a number of boxes of those few I shall never read again. I promised it would never happen, but I'm now faced with the horrible realisation that I only have so much room.

I am still awaiting the fridge/freezer, but have installed the dishwasher. I'm awaiting my new sofas at the end of November, but have got a sun lounger, piled high with duvets and pillows. All in all it feels much like camping out, but with central heating. Already my flat feels like home, and with the cats settled I feel my shoulders droop and all the weight of worry fall away. Of course, that could just be the wine!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

tuesday's history

Today I will be posting on the History Matters blog, describing the in's and out's of my Tuesday. I'm glad they're aiming for "run of the mill" posts as I'm not expecting to do anything too exciting but will be leaving campus for lunch at the Open House, which is a least out of the ordinary.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

sunny sunday

We set off just after one o’clock, taking the top down on the car and heading along the A27 to Kingston. The Juggs was busy, but we settled in on a table in the garden, dappled sunlight shining through the hedge. I ate roast beef and Yorkshire pudding with redcurrants hiding in the centre. Tom had a cheese and ham ploughman’s, the warmth of the day making it entirely suitable despite being mid October.

We took a wander up The Street, greeting the occasional dog. We looked at gardens, through windows, searched for an old well and walked through woodland and uphill before gazing out over the fields. We watched leaves caught in the wind, said hello to a group of sheep and saw a dragonfly dancing through the air.



A glorious way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I feel rested, relaxed and determined to move back to the countryside. I miss the birdsong, the fact that all the noise is in the distance, and that glorious sense of peace that vast swathes of green gives me. Oh for walks though autumn sunshine, being snowed in and curling up in front of an open fire, watching for those first signs of spring as the flowers push up through the grasses, and those long balmy summer evenings, sat in the garden with a glass of wine and no reason to go to bed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

imagining at dusk

A week to go and I’m finally starting to feel my stress levels dip to something near the normal levels. After exchanging on Wednesday I could literally feel the worry fall off my shoulders, although despite this they still feel tense and tight. I feel a massage is in order once the move is over and may splash out on a morning at The Treatment Rooms.

I have ordered my fridge/freezer, dishwasher and gorgeous new plates. I decided on duck egg blue square plates, thinking ahead to how I’m going to decorate the sitting room once the damp proofing has been completed. I’ve searched for book shelves and sofas, rugs and cushions, dining chairs and wardrobes and have now only to decide on a sideboard. I can actually feel each idea, each design, click into place in my head. I can see myself in my rooms, curled up on the sofa reading a book or pouring a gin and tonic and gazing out of the window into the dusk. Perhaps a little romantic but I need to imagine these things. For such a long time now I’ve merely been seeing the worst, the downside, the problems and the difficulties. It is such a big step to be looking forward to living there again, as I did when I first looked around the flat. Such a relief to shake off the shackles of the moving stress.

But it hasn’t all been flat related around here. On Wednesday Ayng and Rob came over for cheese fondue, we supped on wine and played Horror Top Trumps, dipping our bread and dribbling cheese across the table. I was simply happy that the cheese thickened and guzzled on the celebratory bubbly contentedly. It wasn’t long before the conversation sank to its usual depths, with Tom eventually managing to divert us from persuading him to don his “Big Baby” dressing up kit, another one of those terribly useful birthday presents!

Which of course brings my mind back to those gorgeous duck egg plates, and thinking of the food that I shall lay on them. How wonderful to sink into imaginings again.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

moving update

Again, I have another date for exchange. This time, and third or fourth time lucky I’m hoping, it will be tomorrow. The completion date is still set as the 20th, next Friday and a day a part of me is already dreading. I can picture the hold ups – the delays in money clearing bank accounts, parking tickets on the van when we’re clearly unloading, problems getting the bed in through the front door. This last I’ll admit is my biggest fear, I love my bed and after five and a half weeks without it I shall be chomping at the bit to curl up under my goose feather duvet and stretch out to the edges of that king size goodness. Oh glorious!

I went to visit the cats today, something I’ve not had a chance to do for nearly two weeks, and was relieved to see that they do still remember me and were only a little sulky. I had visions of walking into the room and being confronted with bemused faces and a complete lack of recognition. Instead it was purrs and chirrups and put out meows. I fussed and stroked, and cuddled until it was time to leave, promising that it would only be a week and a half until I could whisk them away to their new home, where finally they would be able to roam free outside once more.

I still have to buy a fridge/freezer, dishwasher, sofa and a vast quantity of other bits and bobs to furnish, but am reluctant to start ordering too much until I’ve moved what I have got in. Otherwise I have visions of standing in my new sitting room, entirely surrounded by stuff and completely unable to leave the flat. Some things though, I will need straight away, and plates and saucepans are one of them. Having donated or thrown out my last lot, I’m left with only a few odds and ends to furnish my new kitchen and must restock before I find myself in the dreaded “eating scrambled egg, with a fork, from a shoe” phase.

But forefront in my mind is the fact that finally, after so long, so many false starts and expectations, the date will be set, the wheels will be turning and in a matter of days those keys will be in my hand. Unfortunately, until they are I will continue to panic, and worry, plan and re-plan and generally let my imagination run away with me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

macbook joy

It has arrived! My lovely shiny macbook of joy. And boy did it make my day.



Unfortunately the other exciting event of the delay has been delayed, once more. Exchanging contracts is being held up by a very slow solicitor (on the other side, I hasten to add) which although it not a great worry, is just one of those thorny irritations which won't go away. Well, until Monday anyway. Hopefully then all will be sent off and we'll be on target for completion on 20th October.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

lurgy

Somewhat predictably, I have succumbed to the dreaded "freshers flu". It hit sometime over night and despite a brief sojourn to work in an effort to convince myself that I wasn't ill, has left me curled into a mess on the sofa, surrounded by Kleenex Balsam tissues, honey & lemon and with a temperature causing shivers one minute and sweats the next.

I am not a happy bunny.

Still, at least I have Monty to keep me company. He's very good at curling up with me, looking up with doleful eyes, and not expecting too many strokes when the sneezing fits strike. Thank goodness for cats, I say, without them where would we be?


Sunday, October 01, 2006

stormy sunday

Sitting inside, curled up on the sofa with an Ian Rankin and a beautiful storm raging outside is a fabulous way to end what has been a charmingly quiet weekend. The rain is lashing down in torrents against the window panes, splashing in puddles that passing cars spray back up as they speed past. The cats occasionally wander in, look out of the window in a mixture of curiosity and fear before heading out of the room again to hide upstairs.

It is wonderfully autumnal to sit here, hair still damp from the bath, curled up with a mountain of cushions behind me and a book in hand. The season of extraordinary weather is upon us, with a tornado hitting Brighton beach first thing this morning, followed by the current thunder pounding across the sky. Its a glorious feeling, to be inside and cosy looking out on such weather. I get caught up counting the seconds between lightening and thunder bolt, wondering how far away the storm is, whether its coming closer or further away. And intermingled are the seemingly continuous sirens. Perhaps my memory plays tricks on me, but I remember there being sirens throughout every storm.

The only thing missing from this glorious evening is an open fire, although it's hardly cold enough for one. I would love to hear the crackling and the spit of sap, watch the fire flicker in the corner of my eye whilst waiting for the next strike. It is no bother though, I have a beer at hand and a large, warm, cosy, jumper; book at hand and a happy glint in my eye. Roll on thunder bolts, I say, and smile at each one.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

memories that made me smile today

Rabbit County
My last meal at Wagamamas
Walking through Paris streets on a warm summer evening
Dreadful cocktails on Bournemouth beach
Beautiful cocktails in Valentino's bar & arguing about why people read fiction

toasty

Today is a day for sitting on a sheepskin rug, mug of homemade soup in hand, and staring into the open fire. Despite the extraordinary amount of effort it took to get up this morning, I’ve settled into one of those gloriously serene and romantic states of mind. The world is continuing around me, I occasionally look up and watch it, smiling to myself before turning back to work.

It is a day for nesting, for settling down amongst the bits and pieces in my mind and putting them all in their rightful place. I have that lovely calm feeling I get from knowing that everything I want is where it should be; that feeling you get when you finish the spring clean. Everything sparkles, surfaces are clear and you know you could reach out one hand and find anything you want at the tip of your fingers.


So in my head, in much the same way as I would do after a spring clean, I’m sitting back and putting my feet up. Basking in that fire glow and warming my toes. I pull my sleeves down and curl up on my sheepskin, nestled down and rested. I know that outside the storm is brewing, I can see the thunder clouds, but inside is warm and cosy and I am happy here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

sweet sorrow

It looks likely that I will be exchanging contracts on the new flat within a matter of days. It's such a relief to have that light at the end of the tunnel, to know that moving will be within a week or two and I can finally go back to having "my own place". A new one, where I shall rip off plaster, damp proof, and lovingly redecorate. I can almost smell the paint and feel the wallpaper, but before that I will have to leave Tom's.

Although it's only been two weeks, I actually feel quite sad at the thought of leaving. I miss the cats dreadfully, and the excitement of buying my own place and finally getting that foot on the property ladder does fill me with a desire to be out at once. But I also feel quite torn, with part of me wondering how things would have been if I had have been moving in permanently.

Of course, the fact that I'm moving three minutes walk along the road helps to combat this; knowing that I could almost walk home in my bathrobe, slippers on feet and bleary-eyed to feed the cats. It has been fun, and it is a lovely house: I'm glad that I won't be leaving it completely.

Monday, September 25, 2006

partied out


Finally the birthdays are over, at least for a month or so. It was a wonderful week of dining out, dashing from restaurant to restaurant, munching through delicious meal after delicious meal. We spent Tom's birthday on Friday at the Tin Drum, supping with Tom's dad and others before heading home to sip champagne and watch Spaced until our eyelids drooped.

Saturday was a busy day, catching up with parents and getting ready for the Woodland Disco, a fabulous fest of every imaginable animal, along with fairies galore. Everyone took part with relisPublishh, dancing and talking the night away, at least until costumes got to hot, face paint ran and face wash was used by plenty.

Sunday was spent, as you can imagine, recovering with a long lie-in and a Chinese take away. We curled up on the sofa together, bears and all, and relaxed in front of what can really no longer be called a television, instead the projector threw Midsomer Murders against the wall.

I'm thankful though that, as lovely as the partying was, it's now over for a couple of weeks. Worn out, it will be nice to eat at home, to spend time together and maybe even have a Sunday morning without a pounding headache. Oh joy of joys to not be rushed off feet and dashing from place to place. Instead I shall concentrate on sorting out my flat, with an exchange of contracts looking closer than it has before. Enjoy the peace, I say, before the moving starts again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

shiny

Today is a good day, today I ordered my shiny new black Macbook.

Now begins the wait. Exciting as it is, it has taken far too long already - how will I possibly last two weeks?!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

birthday bliss

What a glorious way to spend my birthday! The morning was gentle, settling down in front of the laptop to check my emails, reading Ian Rankin and lounging in the bath.

I met Tom for lunch at Bill’s, wolfed down delicious Buck Rarebit with ham and a fried egg, deliciously yolky, which oozed into the toast. Then it was a stroll around town to pick up two new dresses for our evenings out this week. I popped into River Island for a lovely wrap around, and Velvet for a longer dress with a beautiful print for Wednesday’s trip to Blanch House.

The rest of the afternoon was spent spread out on top of my duvet, with Horace and the book that James bought me for my birthday: Mortal Engines, a fabulous story which I found unable to put down except for brief moments when making cups of Earl Grey.

Then, wearing the new dress, we drove off to Cooksbridge and The Rainbow Inn, to dine on delicious pork, chicken and lobster ravioli, steak and duck. It was wonderfully tasty, and so good to go back to the Rainbow again after too many years. We returned home for a glass of champagne before resting our weary heads and falling asleep before they hit the pillow. Bliss.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

moving on

It has been a busy few weeks, but I have now moved out. We took a vast quantity of unwanted belongings to the dump, filling up the car or van on numerous occasions and trailing back and forth. I have also put what little I am keeping into storage, all locked up safe and sound along the road where it shall patiently wait until I am ready to move into the new flat.



It was a long and stressful process, one which has left me covered in bruises but with fabulously strong arms. Although it was sad to leave the old house, home for so long, I have to admit to only occasional twinges when I miss it.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday, with a meal at the Sukhothai Palace followed by much drinking, debauchery and dancing back at Rosehill. It was a fabulous way to wind down and relax, and despite my tiredness did manage to stay awake until five thirty, when I fell asleep on the sofa.

Today has, naturally, been one of rest. After my brother rose from the depths of unconsciousness just after midday, we sent him home and trotted down to the Park Crescent for a roast. Although near, it was disappointingly either burnt or cold, depending on which area of the plate we were attacking. To make up for this I decided on an afternoon of snoozing, which certainly made up for the lack of gastronomic success. Quietly nestled up on the sofa, I’m settled in for an evening of Spooks and curry and not a box to pack in sight. Glorious!

Monday, September 11, 2006

packed out

I’ve now spent more time around cardboard than I have ever cared to, given myself numerous paper cuts, become smeared in news print and been covered in dust and dirt when clearing out the attic. The house is in a complete state of confusion, with boxes being a feature in every room.

However this didn’t stop me from having a house-cooling party on Saturday. The crowd gathered round to drink lots of wine and chilli beer, talk nonsense and toast the house and the last eight years in it. It was lovely, if a little sad, to sit with those people who have spent the most time there over the years, to look back over the memories and yet be safe in the knowledge that we didn’t spill nearly as much wine as we used to.

Sunday was a day off, I spent the vast majority of it asleep, catching up and letting myself wind down after another stressful week. This evening I will be back to the parcel tape and marker pen, labelling up the boxes. Tomorrow Mum & I will be ferrying things to the tip, and this will hopefully get the vast majority of useless junk out of the house, giving me that much needed light at the end of the tunnel for the end of the week. Only three more days to go and then it's all over.

Monday, September 04, 2006

moving date

My moving-out date is set, 15th September, three days before my birthday. This means that I will be homeless for my birthday, a depressing thought only made bearable by the fact that I will also have a rather large sum of money, for a short while at least.

It’s exciting to have a date but it’s also rather sad, a bitter-sweet pill. I have been saying goodbye to the house for months now, and had one of those lovely solitary weekends where I shut myself away to pack and immerse myself in books. It was glorious to sit there, snuggled up on the sofa with the bears and Josephine Tey, occasionally raising my head to glance out of the window at the grey skies and rain showers.

My mind fell back to the cottage we lived in when I was young, with low square-paned windows looking out over the fields. You could sit and watch the storms brewing in the distance and yet have the warm crackling of the open fire behind you.

But there shall be no more resting for me, there will only be boxes and boxes and farewells before that limbo in between homes. It all seems to have happened so quickly and yet taken such a long time that I am left clutching at nothing but panic and lists, endless lists. I hope it won't be for long.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

back on form

A long soak in the bath, the calmness of making soup and an early night with an Agatha Christie certainly did the job. By the time I turned out the light I felt beautifully relaxed. This morning I woke feeling awake for once and back to my normal smiley self. What a relief!

Today is an exciting day, although I didn’t know it when I woke. Today I hear that contracts are being signed on the house, which means that at least one side of my move is going well. I shall have a completion date shortly, and so I aim to spend the weekend packing what I can. I’ve so far trawled the offices and collected a load of boxes to fill with books, clothes and all those other things I’m not going to need for the next few months. (OK, I know I’m going to need books – but not all of them. I shall have to be very firm with myself and only choose a few to take with me, and just go to the library more!)


Next week I should also hear more regarding estimates taken today on my (hopefully) new flat. It is obviously all up in the air at the moment and causing me much stress, mostly because it’s out of my hands. Me? A control freak!? Never! But there is nothing I can do but sit back, wait and cross everything it's possible to cross.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

the blue funk

Today is a Wind in the Willows day. I feel as if I want to be curled up on a visit to Mole’s house one dark winters eve.

“The Rat paid no heed to his [Mole] doleful self-reproaches. He was running here and there, opening doors, inspecting rooms and cupboards, and lighting lamps and candles and sticking them up everywhere. `What a capital little house this is!' he called out cheerily.”

I want to be in a capital little house, with bunks and candles, a blazing fire and a parlour. I want duvets a plenty and warm mugs of honey and lemon, home made soup and chunks of bread, still warm from the oven.

Although the weather is gloriously sunny, I feel tired and worn out and know I’ve lost the battle to hold off autumn. I’ve even gone so far as to order a new jumper, and find my thoughts turning to winter as the evenings get darker and the mornings have that inescapable chill. I would be prickly but I’m too dulled for that, and instead just sit looking morose and sorry for myself. I have promised myself an early night, and some homemade soup, and hope that this raises my mood from the doldrums. I do so hate to be glum.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

acid brass

Yesterday Tom and I gave up on the idea of a picnic and headed out to Bexhill on Sea and the De La Warr Pavillion to see the Jeremy Deller exhibition. We wandered around the newly renovated building, gazing out at the rain along the coast and marvelling at the "thing" out in the sea which looked rather like an oil platform but wasn't.


After a brief wander for some food and a bit of rock pooling, we headed back for Acid Brass. It started as an experiment that Jeremy Deller set up, whilst sitting in a pub and thinking of the many links between brass bands and acid house music. There was a lovely range of people there, from chaps in their dotage to children dancing about and running back and forth in front of the stage. It didn't take long before the dancing started, with a couple of groups who were determined to relive part of their misspent youth.

I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like it, it was great fun but also quite surreal.

Friday, August 25, 2006

the weekend beckons

With the sunshine, my mood returns and I find myself gazing happily out of the window at the blue sky, listening for birds and dreaming of picnics by the riverbank. Tomorrow we shall head out into the countryside and find a place to spread our blanket, but beforehand I shall pick up the necessary delicacies on my way home and somehow keep myself from picking at them this evening.

It is a relief to be in such a chipper mood especially considering that yesterday brought a conversation with my surveyor, which could result in problems with the new flat. I had thought that the whole process was moving too well, positively swimmingly in fact. But until reports are made and quotes received there is nothing I can do but hold fire and try not to worry too much. It is a little frustrating, but then again not entirely unexpected. I have been repeatedly told, by numerous people, that the whole house buying process is a minefield of problem after problem and for once I paid close attention to this advice.


I shall put the whole business out of my mind for the weekend though, and delight in picnicking, and adventures into the wilds of East Sussex to see an exhibition and a concert. What better way to spend time with my lovely boy?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

dinner out

Last night Tom and I headed to Katharine & Rich’s for dinner. It’s only been a month or so since they moved in, and the new flat is already looking lovely and lived in, with the vast majority repainted. Sam has a larger room, which means he actually has space to play with his toys and although the sitting room is narrow and galley-like, there is actually more room for their dining table than at their previous flat.

I got to spend some time with my lovely godson, who is coming on leaps and bounds but was feeling a little grizzly due to the terrible weather. He is adorable, and cuddled up to watch the teletubbies with me for a short while.


Katharine cooked a lovely chicken tikka massala, washed down with liberal amounts of wine, poppadums, nans and chutneys that left us feeling distinctly well fed. A sticky toffee pudding followed, which I unfortunately had to pass up due to the fullness of my belly.
We talked autism and politics, privatisation and the Royal Mail, generally putting the world to rights. But home time eventually came, and Tom and I strolled out into the dark night to get soaked to the bone in yet another torrential rain shower. It is probably time I invested in an umbrella; there is after all a big difference between being optimistic and just plain damp.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

come back summer...

I’m trying desperately hard to hold onto the thought that it is still summer, that autumn hasn’t yet started and that all this rain and gloom is simply a bad patch of weather that will soon pass and reveal lovely sunshine like July.

Despite the aid of chocolate biscuits, I can feel this glimmer of hope quietly disappearing. Surely summer can’t be over? Surely that can’t be it? It’s only August – and only half way through August at that.

Of course a part of me quite likes autumn, if only because it provides another season in which I can wear jumpers. Jumpers and me get on. They’re warm, cosy and soft. I’ve stolen a few in my years too, normally from boys. There is something even better about boys jumpers, and stolen ones better still.


As much as I love jumpers, and boots, which also remind me of autumn and kicking up piles of red leaves, it’s just not time for it yet. There is still warm weather to be enjoyed, evenings basking in the slowly cooling light, days on the beach or driving through the glorious green countryside. And most importantly, I still haven’t had a picnic this year. It simply can’t be over until I’ve had a picnic!

Monday, August 21, 2006

school photo

Every year a group of us get together to document the past year with a photo, an event we fondly call the “school photo” simply because it is similar to those posed affairs where you had to stand on metal staging for hours on end, staring into the sun and sweltering in blazers, ties and the like.

Yesterday afternoon I made my way, via Katharine’s, to Preston Park and our usual meeting place on the rockery. Of course, just as we reached the park the heavens opened and torrential rain fell out of the sky, soaking us to the bone. We leapt from cover to cover, and dashed across the bare grass when there was none until finally meeting up with James and heading for the cover of the cafĂ©.

The usual tomfoolery followed, with cups of tea a plenty and much brushing of damp hair. We sat about waiting for the stragglers to catch up, before Kate; our photographer, ordered us about like a true professional. We sat obediently, before leaping up and down stairs, dashing from left to right and generally making artistic fools of ourselves.



Whilst some staggered off to the pub, braving the prospect of more rain, I tramped my soggy and cold self home for a much needed bath and the promise of warm, dry clothes. However much I love the romance of summer rainstorms, there does need to be a deliciously warm bath at the end or else I fear the dreaded summer cold.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

hols

It has been a glorious week off but a part of me can't help but be a little sad that it's nearly over. We spent a relaxed weekend, with a drink on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Glasnost's birthday, before settling into the seemingly endless unplanned days.

Tuesday became a busy day with my interview in the morning, followed by lunch at Havana's and a brief meeting with my solicitor. Fortunately though we still had time to lounge around on the beach, gazing up at the bright blue sky, or lying on a pile of cushions on the decking, absorbed in our books.


We met with Donovan & Sam on Tuesday evening and headed out for a night of indie at Audio, much dancing ensued and Wednesday was therefore a day of relaxing and hiding away from the light.


Yesterday we headed up for London, abandoning our Plan A of Kew Gardens for Plan B and headed to the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum. I saw my first IMAX film, a beautiful piece of film about deep sea creatures, wandered around amongst dinosaurs, fossils and stepped through a fake earthquake. We then headed out to the Nordic Bar off Oxford Street for a fabulous cocktail before heading to the much loved Ping Pong for steamed parcels of deliciousness.

It has been so nice to relax and unwind for a week, especially with the previous week being so stressful. Although the weather hasn't been it's best, we've had a good mix of getting out to do stuff, and staying in curled up hiding from the rain. Books have been read, films have been watched, take away has been eaten and culture has been absorbed. With the remainder of my holiday likely to be taken up with moving, its been lovely to have had such a week to enjoy.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

offer accepted

My offer has been accepted. And I have a job interview.

My day has suddenly got a lot more exciting!

waiting game

I've found a flat, made an offer and am now sitting, wracked with nerves whilst I wait to hear if it's been accepted. Calmer than yesterday evening, I still find myself unable to think of anything other than when the phone will ring. Every third glance is to the mobile on my desk, I occasionally check it to make sure it's on and panic that if I leave it for a second I'll miss it ringing.

I feel completely irrational, emotional and ever so slightly insane. But now that I've got over my initial abject fear, I'm actually starting to enjoy this. Yes, it's terrifying and bewildering but it's also exciting. It's edge of the seat stuff!

The only thing that could make this better is for my boy to come home, but for that I will have to wait until Saturday. I just hope that the phone call doesn't take that long.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

peaks and troughs

The flat hunting has been more difficult than expected this past weekend. On Saturday I saw a flat that, on first viewing was promising but on second became quite clear would not be suitable. It was a shame; the sitting room was lovely and light for a basement, with patio doors that led out onto a lovely garden. But there were too many “bad points” which out-weighed the good ones, meaning that I decided in the end not to make an offer.

I found this in itself depressing enough, but spent the rest of the day trawling estate agents and finding that there simply is nothing on the market at the moment that fits my needs. Tired and hot, by this time I was beginning to feel not only depressed but despairing of ever finding a flat at all.

Fortunately a late afternoon nap soon meant that I was feeling more myself, as did booking in a viewing for this evening. Finally I started to feel that there was an end in sight.

I spent a much more relaxed Sunday in the countryside, celebrating Dad’s birthday with a BBQ in the dappled sunshine. It was a lovely way to spend the day, and a welcome break from Brighton. We bickered and teased, ate steaks followed by home made strawberry ice-cream and sipped on Pimms or red wine. And it was with a peaceful heart that I set off home, top down on the car, through the orange-turning sunshine.


With the start of the week, it’s back to the grindstone and back on the phone to agents. I suspect that I will be spending a considerable amount of my time on the other end of a line, desperately trying to track down that elusive flat, but with hopefully a cheerier disposition than of late.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

and now the fun starts

This afternoon we accepted an offer on the house. So now the whole wheel is in motion, appointments with IFA's, viewings, offers of my own to make...

I feel this incredible excitement and also this deep terror. Here I am, about to embark on one of life's biggest adventures and all I can think of is wallpaper. Still, it's good to know the creative part of my brain is enjoying this!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Alexander's Feast

Dad and I trotted up to London yesterday to spend the day being cultured. We started with the Tate Modern, gorging ourselves on Mattise, Dali and other surrealists before having lunch whilst admiring the fabulous view across the Millenium Bridge. We next took a trip on the Eye, which despite the cloud cover gave us lovely views across London. Ever since going on it for the first time last year, I've been dying to go in the evening. I'm sure looking down on all those twinkling lights must be a beautiful sight.

By now feeling a little tired, we headed for a quiet meander through the V&A, taking in some original 60's art work that left Dad in a state of smiling nostalgia, harking back to his school days and playing tennis on the croquet lawn (surely that was a disgraceful thing to do?)

Finally we headed off for the Royal Albert Hall to hear Mozart's rearrangement of Handel's Alexander's Feast. The chorus were enchanting, but unfortunately we sat to the side and didn't get the best acoustics. It's the longest choral piece I've heard, and the only piece with two harpicords.

We caught the fast train back to Brighton to get me home to rest my tired and achey feet. A tiring but definitely worthwhile day.

Monday, July 31, 2006

of morris dancing... and other things

Friday night was a combination of the weird and wonderful in terms of music, with the added frisson of tequila and toilet roll. Tom, Dan, Kerry and myself headed along to the Komedia to see Victoria Hume play. As mentioned in a previous post, Vic has a superb voice and it was interesting to hear them play as a band, rather than Vic alone and acoustic. I’m hoping that she gets more gigs down in Brighton, as I’d love to hear more of her.

Vic was followed by Circulus, whom Steve found (perhaps due to the tequila, although he did buy the album) worthy of engaging in Morris dancing with toilet rolls. I’m amazed that he managed to get a few unsuspecting audience members to join in, if only for a short and for them I’d imagine, confused time. Despite being urged to join in, I felt it my place to simply document the procedures, so see photos here.

As is often the case when tequila is involved, the night proceeded to continue until the small hours, with further alcohol and Tom & Dan doing their obligatory fighting. Injuries followed, as they are wont to do, and Deep Heat has been applied.

This rather long and debauched evening, along with the recent full diary, led me to spend a quiet and restful Saturday evening at home with the cats. Feeling somewhat neglected recently, they enjoyed the copious amounts of fussing they received in a heart warming fashion, and curled up beside me as I nodded off. It would have been a perfect nights sleep if I hadn’t ruined it by waking inexplicably at 2:40am and found it nigh-on impossible to get back to sleep for a good hour or so. Fortunately though, a lie in on Sunday is obligatory and a slow start to the day, with a breakfast of scrambled egg and bacon and freshly brewed coffee followed by Phillip Pullman for the afternoon, and curry for dinner, meant that I once again feel human and ready to face the week.

Friday, July 28, 2006

changes afoot

Over the past few weeks I have come to a decision about where to go next. It’s been a tricky decision to make with all the other changes going on (well, the prospect of imminent mortgage). As I recently posted, I’ve been feeling restless and I’ve worked out what it is: I need to change my career.

I only ever got into doing admin as a stop gap between school and university, but with that being nine years ago now it has become far more than a stop gap and more of a weight that I have felt unable to unhook myself from.


As the recent months have gone by, I’ve become more and more aware of the fact that I am unfulfilled in this area of my life. I don’t feel tested, or that I’m putting my skills to their best uses. I don’t want to end up stuck here, resenting that I never made that leap and drudging through each day. So I’ve made up my mind, changes are afoot I shall be making a leap. I just hope I don’t land awkwardly.

Monday, July 24, 2006

amoureux

I’m in love. I’m in love with Paris, with a weekend that despite the constant heat, the blisters and the aching legs, was filled with beauty and delight.

At first, with those tentative steps out of the Gard du Nord into the rows of restaurants and sex shops, I felt a little disappointed. I was tired, with two hours sleep and a snooze on the train, and I needed lunch. We walked along, heavy bags on our backs with the blazing sun beating down until we gave up, stopping at a small brasserie and ordering salad in pigin-french, words sticking and refusing to form.

The metro only confused me, I stood about wondering which direction, which line, and under ground was so much hotter. But then suddenly we were up above ground again, on the left bank and on the road we needed. A boulevard lined with trees and people, and suddenly behind me was the river, and the Louvre, and Notre Dame and then I felt it.

We spent the afternoon walking along the left bank, dog-tired but determined to make it from Notre Dame to the Jardin des Plantes. We drank water by the gallon and trudged through back streets and squares where people sat in the sun, or basked below the cool shade of trees. We had time to sleep before we headed out for dinner, at one of the only restaurants in the area that wasn’t Japanese. The food was simple but delicious and set us up for the succession of mohito’s we drank at a bar round the corner.

On Saturday morning I felt it again as we walked through the entrance to the Palais de Louvre and stood, necks craned to take it all in. It bowled me over, the size and the beauty; it struck me dumb. But on we went, through the Jardin des Tuileries and up the Champs Elysees to the Arc d’Triomphe. Then down towards the river again and the Eiffel Tower. The queues were too long to spend time in, and so we missed the journey to the top and views over Paris. Instead we walked on, along the Quai D’Orsay to take in the Musee D’Orsay before heading back to change for dinner.

As the sun began to sink on yet another beautiful day, we climbed aboard and sailed gently up and down the Seine, delighting in four courses and the cool breeze that rushed in on either side of the boat. The views were wonderful, from the rows of tents on the riverside to the Eiffel Tower, lit up in sparkling lights and bathing all with the searchlight. We left feeling tired but contented, to stroll along the streets of Saint-Germain in the cool darkness.


Now home again I feel a tug for Paris, a longing for all the things we didn’t get to see, but I know that it was a glorious weekend, and one I shall not forget.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the hunt is on

The flat hunting has started; I’ve seen three so far this week with another lined up for tomorrow. Walking around them is a rather new experience; I’m being allowed to be nosey. I can peer at cracks in the walls, check for damp and inspect kitchen units and bathrooms with more care that the average visitor. I can ask pointed questions about the area or the neighbours, can remark on redecorating or “ripping that out”.

At first it seemed almost rude, to be walking around someone’s home and mentally taking the place apart. It has been made easier by the fact that so far it is always estate agents who have taken me round, and never the homeowner or tenant. I could imagine that my comments on “the obvious damp problem in the bathroom” and “why on earth did they paint the kitchen dark red?” would be somewhat curtailed if faced with the vendor.

Of the three seen so far, one was a definite “no” with a garden you would need crampons to climb. One was in nice condition, with a new kitchen and a garden which showed lots of potential, but it will be sold by now and to be honest, it had a little too much done for my liking. I would like somewhere that needs more work. The third flat was much more exciting, showing lots of promise and with character, but again there is an issue with the garden.


I am not holding out for a perfect flat but for something with potential, and the selection I’ve seen so far has been interesting. It is great to finally be at the stage where I can go and see property, and when people are coming to see the house. Although with this new rush of energy I realise that I will miss the old house, if only a little, because it has been such a solid home to me and so many of my friends for so long. I only get glimpses of this though, because the rest of me is far more excited to be moving!

Friday, July 07, 2006

flitting

Since Tom's return from Roskilde on Monday the week has flown by in a concoction of busyness or sleepiness. I suspect the term "burning the candle at both ends" would not quite cover it. In fact I think we got all the candles we could find and set light to them, indeed at many times during the week my brain has felt like a puddle of warm wax.

We had a lovely adventure up to Regents Park Open Air Theatre on Wednesday evening, to watch The Taming of The Shrew. Having missed our train by about 30 seconds, we unfortunately couldn't sup on parcels of deliciousness at Ping Pong. We made up for it with Bratwurst and bubbly followed by chocolate truffle cake, whilst we basked in the warmth of the evening, grateful that it didn't rain after all.

Yesterday evening was Pirate evening, and after meeting at the Fortune of War, we all piled in to the cinema, tricorns aplenty, to "yarrrrr" at Cap'n Jack Sparrow. I am wondering if Joh, Ed and James will be organising another of the fabled "Pirate Nights", but have heard no whispers yet. I quite fancy another swashbuckling adventure, but not today, for today is Katharine's birthday party and I'm not sure she'd appreciate it!

Monday, July 03, 2006

softly sunday

Having spent Saturday morning trawling estate agents (very exciting) and Saturday afternoon helping Katharine & Rich move (not quite as exciting, but somehow rewarding), it was a relief to put the top down on the car and speed off into the countryside yesterday for my brothers birthday barbeque.

It was such a beautiful morning, and like me, my car loves the sunshine. I sped along the A27 on nearly clear roads, turning off through the Cuilfail tunnel and Ringmer and taking the longer route to Mum & Dad's. The engine purred along the country roads, wind swept my hair and I couldn't help but smile.

My little brother turned twenty-four, and celebrated with his friends on Saturday night. Feeling slightly the worse for wear, he was still up and about (just) in time for lunch. I turned burgers and sausages whilst the family drank Pimms. The garden, shaded now by trees that have grown since I lived there, was lovely and dappled; keeping the worst of the midday heat at bay.

We talked for hours, and picked at salads, strawberries and cherries in kirsch and soft French and Italian cheeses. It was a perfect afternoon in quiet countryside, and a lovely cooler drive back to Brighton, the evening sunshine beating on my sunsoaked skin

Friday, June 30, 2006

decisions

I’m feeling restless. My mind doesn’t stay on one topic for long, I stand up and walk around the office, I break off mid conversation and start a new one. I flick from thought to thought without finishing any. It’s leaving me feeling frustrated and twitchy.

I would like to be able to say “I long to…” and whatever it would be, would fill me with calm and peace. But I don’t know what I long to do. It changes from minute to minute, hour to hour and moves so fast I cannot focus.

I feel like a ball of tightly bound energy. Every nerve ending is electric, ready to jump at the slightest provocation. There are butterflies in my stomach and tingling in my fingertips. I have spent the week flitting between thoughts, what I want to do next, what I want to read, what I want to watch, where I want to sit, or to eat, or to drink. I cannot settle on any decision without an almost instantaneous opposite popping up in my head.

At a time when a large proportion of the stable things in my life are changing, it is ironic that I look for more to change. Instead of sitting back and dealing with what I already have to face, I find myself looking for more “improvements” to make. It’s almost like “buy one, get one free”: if I’m doing this now, I might as well get this and this out of the way at the same time. And so I find myself re-evaluating everything, looking at what I want to be different and trying to tackle it all at once.


However I have made no decisions, and this leaves me feeling adrift, restless and frustrated. Perhaps it’s time to take a break and come back to “me” with fresh eyes.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

on sam

A couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon with Katharine and my godson Sam, who had just been diagnosed as autistic. We caught up on recent events and wandered to Preston Park to gossip with a beer, enjoy the sunshine and let Sam have a run about. It was only a brief stay, but one which opened my eyes to one of the many difficulties that Katharine, Rich and Sam face.

Sam loves gates, and doors, and anything else that opens and closes. Whilst sitting in his pushchair on trips to the library, he will watch the automatic doors open and close. This causes great excitement, his arms flap, his hands clasp and his legs wiggle in joy.

He also loves to open and close the gate that leads to the play area in the park. Unlike other small boys, the swings and slide hold no interest for him. He only has eyes for the gate, which he opens and watches with glee as it bangs closed.

Unfortunately the problem arises when other people want to use this gate, and quite naturally, don't understand why the lovely blue-eyed boy is trying to push them out of the way, or slowly crumbling into tears, or worse still, screaming in obvious distress. Most people move through the gate, look bemused and carry on, forgetting the incident within seconds. But there are the odd one or two who simply want to stand it front of it, or lean against it.

It is an effort to explain why it would be appreciated if they could move, they looked confused and in the end there is the inevitable disclosure of Sam's autism. It is traumatic for all, especially if people still don't understand. Sam, who doesn't either, begins to cry and then to scream.

These little things, a simple trip to the park, are in fact not simple at all. Instead a battle to be fought, to communicate that Sam simply wants to open and close the gate. There will be many more battles as Sam grows up, but I'm proud to know that Katharine and Rich will continue to fight them, whether big or small, with the same love and devotion for Sam. He is, after all, the best godson in the world.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

breather

The results are out, the final year students have been and gone, finishing their three years at University with, on most accounts, the degree they expected. It was a good week, a mixture of excitement and hard work that kept our adrenaline up until the end, when we all collapsed exhausted but happy to have been a part of it.

Now we have a breather, of sorts, whilst the marks for our second year students come in. Once that is done we go through the whole process again, although without the same excitement. By the middle of July it will all be over for another year.

After spending Friday afternoon napping in recovering, and a quiet evening regaining my brain, on Saturday it was back to work. Although this time it was work on the house. Mum, Dad & I built new banisters for the steps in the garden, one of the final bits of work needing to be done before the house goes on the market. Today Mum is going about visiting estate agents and the scaffolding that has been cutting out all the light into my house will finally be removed.

In a way I feel as if I've just jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. Last week is the most stressful week of the year at work, and now starts the most stressful time at home. Although I would love the move to go smoothly, I am fully aware that happens very rarely. There will be problems, there will be issues that need to be ironed out, and there will be inevitable delays. I just hope that there aren't too many.

It is exciting though, to be on the edge of another adventure. There have been so many adventures recently, but I'm not complaining. A good adventure stirs the soul, and that is a fabulous feeling.

Friday, June 16, 2006

long grass

Today is a day for lying around in tall grasses on picnic blankets. I want to sip champagne and nibble sun-warmed strawberries, leaving sticky fingers to wipe. I want to lie in the grass so all I can see is the blue sky above me and the tops of the grasses, waving in the breeze.

I'll never forget spending one spring under the daffodils. I was small enough that I could lie amongst them and look up under the bright yellow trumpets. They would fill my vision, I'd watch bees fly from flower to flower and time didn't seem to pass at all. I was so upset when, a year later, I was too big to fit under the daffodils. I'd grown so much that I could only flatten them.

I remember making circles of flattened grass on the Downs, little islands to sit in hidden from view. And rolling down the hills, bump after bump, until I lay panting at the bottom, covered in bits of grass and twig and giggling.

Tomorrow I think I'll go in search of tall grasses, I'll tumble down hills until I'm covered in bruises and come home giggling. But first I must sort out my passport, for as lovely as tall grasses are, Paris is beckoning.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

rollercoaster

And so it begins, the busiest working week of the year. This morning has been a wonderful rush of questions, with paper flying from printers and copiers, people dashing from office to office, urgent phone calls and emails and everywhere there are marks.

It is my favourite time of year, I love the panic and the urgency, the constant deadlines and hurried meetings, but only because it lasts for a comparatively short time. If life was like this every day I would have burnt out rather quickly a while ago.

Most of all I love the day of the classification meeting. I rush from printer to computer, meeting to meeting, taking endless phone calls and making copious notes. Then there is the quiet of the classification, before the most nerve racking part of the whole process - where I write the pass list. It gets checked, and checked, and checked again, before I walk out into the sunshine, mafia style flanked by my assistants, list in hand. The mass of students before me supercharge the air with emotions, those few minutes pass in slow motion.

Nothing beats the shouts, the grins, the smiles and hugs and kisses, those gloriously happy faces. It fills your heart and all the stresses and the strains of the previous week wash away. Those smiles, they more than make it worth the effort.

Monday, June 12, 2006

bournemouth bound

Although more solid looking than Brighton's piers, Bournemouth pier doesn't have quite the same beauty. I decided this whilst sitting on the deck of West Beach restaurant, glass of wine in hand and gazing out across the glorious sandy beach and blue sea on Saturday evening. It was the perfect place to be sitting, sunshine beating down on my burnt nose and forehead, whilst I looked over the menu.

In the end I decided on white mushroom soup to start, followed by halibut cooked in a red wine sauce with mash and asparagus. By this time we had moved in from the deck to get away from the sudden and raucous chants of those inescapable football fans; drenched in Stella and swaying.

The food was delicious and made the perfect stop gap between Monkey World and the Pier Theatre. I suspect, however, that our later plan of cocktails at Hot Rocks was a mistake. Sickly and far too sweet, they cloyed to our tastebuds like toffee to teeth. Of course, that didn't stop us from having a second, just to make sure they didn't improve with time. Again, a mistake. They most definitely did not. But a small price to pay for such a splendid day.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

distraction

The news that the assessment boycott has been suspended whilst members of the UCU vote on the pay deal means that my workload is now at full tilt, exam scripts piling up left, right and centre and marks flying in at rapid rates. Despite this sudden influx I find myself severely distracted this week, something not helped by the bug I seem to have picked up.

I spent yesterday curled up in a small and sorry state, trying hard to swallow orange juice and all things good, whilst my throat burnt as if I had swallowed acid. I am, even now, dosed up on aspirin, sucking on plums and guzzling down vitamin-c laden drink to keep the germs at bay. But I know that it is not the germs that are distracting me.

Out of my office window the sky is a perfect duck egg blue. The sky light dapples through the leaves, which gently wave in the breeze; dancing on the end of their supple branches. There is that glorious smell of cut grass, the distant hum of conversation and the occasional lobster-red shoulders of sun worshippers. Of course, as lovely as it is to finally have summer here, it isn't that which is distracting me.

I know what it is that makes me smile through the day, what makes my heart sing and my spine tingle with excitement. And I know that, in my heart of hearts, I don't really mind being distracted at all because, you see, it's wonderful to be me; I am quite ridiculously happy.

Monday, June 05, 2006

brighton frocks

On Saturday, Katharine and I downed glasses of white wine and headed out, in true Ab Fab style, to the Brighton Frocks Show at the Concorde. Despite having a 7pm start on the ticket, we found the place remarkably empty when we arrived, and having refilled our glasses a number of times, easily managed to get a front row spot overlooking the catwalk.

Just over an hour, and much wine later, the show started. An array of Brighton based designers showing off their new creations, with the majority being exciting designs. I was greatly impressed by the fabulously frilly knickers of Ophelia Fancy, who brought ballet and tap dancers to the catwalk. Fetique put on a fabulous show, with the most uncomfortable pair of shoes I've ever seen and a lovely blonde writhing for the cameras.

Two hours passed remarkably quickly, as we were shown a wide range of designs to suit any taste. At the introduction it was mentioned that within two years, Brighton Frocks hope to run a Brighton Fashion Weekend. With so many exciting designers I can see this as a possibility, and look forward to next year.

We finished off the evening with dinner at Zafferelli's and, naturally, another bottle of wine. After all, these things have to be done properly!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

moth to the flame

Last night Tom and I went to see his aunt sing. We caught up with the lovely Katharine and Rich, that charming chap James and Evil Pete, who is obviously not evil at all. Vic normally sings with a band, but last night went acoustic with only Chris on keyboard. She sings beautifully, making goosebumps rise on my arms and my spine tingle. With only time for two songs it was difficult to get an idea of just how good she is, but Moth are playing the Komedia on 28th July and I fully intend to be there.

We headed off before the end of the evening to fill our empty stomachs at Wagamama. It was almost eerie, sitting there with only two other people and the whole restaurant in comparative silence. But observing my surroundings was shortlived, as talk came round to the precipice we find ourselves standing on. There are times when I can hear the pebbles rush down the sides, gathering pace and clicking against each other. The world is a whirl of excitement. I can feel it as I look over the edge, and know that any minute I shall start to slip and slide and rush down with the pebbles, over the edge and onto the next adventure, onto a different ground.

It was no wonder that I woke early, walked along the quiet streets with blue sky and warm sun on my back, smiling up in wonder. Today I will find beauty in unexpected places, today I will find each smile makes my fingers tingle, my spine shiver. But it won't just be today. I think this adventure is here to stay.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

six days of relaxation

Chelsea was great! We were lucky with the weather and managed to avoid the two major rain showers by either eating lunch or hiding away in the large marquee, wandering amongst the displays. I found some amazing mirrored sculptures, beautiful hanging seats and found myself inspired by the gardens. It was so interesting to see the designs and planting up close, to see what effects they had on people, how they impressed or disappointed.

After a glorious day exploring the gardens, plants and stopping for a drink in Covent Garden, Mum and I dropped in on Ping Pong, as recommended by Tom and Sprink. Delicious little dumplings of steamed goodness, and a bottle of red between us, filled us and let us rest our aching feet before catching the train home to Brighton.

Friday was probably one of the best evenings I've had. If I said that the food at the Seven Dials Restaurant was delicious and the company fantastic, it wouldn't go anywhere near explaining the evening. And so I shall stop there.

The rest of the weekend passed in a relaxed mismash of wanders to the marina for the Big Splash, catching up on some friends, watching X-Men 3 and numerous glasses of wine. I feel rested and comfortable and supremely happy. Long may it continue.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

last day

Finally a few rays of sunshine this morning, on my last day at work before a six day break. After the past few weeks, having some time off is a dream. I envisage lie-in's, breakfast at Bill's, and glorious sunshine. However, I know the sun won't shine for long.

Tomorrow I'm off to Chelsea, and I plan to take my wellies. I have visions of ploughing through Glastonbury-style mud slides, of feeling continuously damp and cold and shivery. But also I'm longing to see the gardens, to wander among the flowers and take in all those glorious scents.

For the rest of the break I have much to look forward to, meals out, a picnic, a barbecue (I'm noticing a food-related theme here). I shall read books, relax and take long, hot baths. I don't want too many plans, I want to be free to jump up and drive out to the countryside if the rain stops, or stalk down to the beach and watch the waves crash. And only 8 more hours until I can escape.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lewes

Yesterday evening Mr "I told you it wasn't along here" Burt and myself made a short train journey to Lewes, to listen to readings from Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf with music from a solo cello at Southover Grange. It would prove to be an interesting evening, but not for the reasons I expected. It began with the cellist, who was completely unaware of who the readings would be from and whilst fluffing his way through an introduction of "Peter Sackville-West", promptly began to make his cello sound like a strangled cat.

It has been suggested to me that the cellist was in fact a fake. The real cellist had been murdered by his identical twin brother earlier on in the day, and as his disappearance would be noticed if he didn't perform that evening, the evil twin brother decided that he would step boldly into the dead mans shoes and brave the cello.

The interval came, and still stifling giggles, we exited, looks of amazement on our faces. I don't think I've ever had to leave a performance half way through before, and it was with relief that we turned the corner and let our laughter burst forth.

To aid recovery, we dropped in on Ollie at the Brewers Arms before heading back to Brighton, safe in the knowledge that culture is not necessarily always a good thing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

shift up a gear

Tomorrow the scaffolding will arrive. Suddenly flat hunting seems far closer. For a while there I had been drifting, forgetting about flats, about leasehold, freehold and surveying. I had forgotten to remember to start collecting boxes, to make lists of things to keep and things to throw away. After a brief phone call last night it all rushed back to me, and there it is, real again in front of me.

The outside of the house is going to be painted a soft light green, which those small areas already coated show, will be easy on the eye but also give much needed colour. From tomorrow this painting can start at the back of the house, before moving out to the front once the scaffolders have permission from the council to use the pavement. The party walls will be worked on, my bedroom repainted and then the work is complete.

It fills me with excitement and has caught me unawares whilst I wasn't paying attention. Next week I must use one of my days off to trawl estate agents, putting my name on lists and start to anxiously wait for particulars to fall through the letterbox. I have this awful feeling that now I'm a grown up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

storm

With the clouds looming overhead, thick and heavy grey with rain, and the darkness spreading through the sky, I get a tingling in the tips of my fingers. This afternoon I am all built-up-energy, brain flashing, fidgeting and unable to sit still. I look about me, thoughts not staying on one surface for longer than a few seconds, and even my speech is faster, less coherent, jumping about.

I get the feeling of a thunder storm brewing, the closeness and this reined in energy are sure signs to my mind. I want to jump up and run out, dancing in the rain drops, getting soaked to the skin. Instead I am surrounded by exam scripts, elastic bands and chatter, listening to the heavy raindrops hit the window. All frustration, all bound up, and the tingling in my fingers doesn't stop.

Monday, May 15, 2006

gangsters galore

Saturday evening found me dining in Donatello's with Lyndsey, catching up on her adventures and trying to avoid the hen nights, and the associated half naked men, screaming in the bar. We guzzled wine like no tomorrow and made plans for future ventures before heading out into the warm night air and a walk to the Nightingale Theatre.

The theatre is above a pub on the corner of Surrey Street. After ordering our interval drinks we stood about, tickets in hand, waiting for the late show of "Ten Thousand Several Doors". It was a fabulous promenade play, with the audience walking from a dark, black-painted room, through back corridors and out of kitchens, from scene to scene. The actors walked past you, brushing you aside or standing menacingly in their well-cut suits, legs apart in true gangster form, whilst the double bass hummed.

We left elated, talking nineteen to the dozen, and headed down to the Speigletent for a last drink and a dance to, unexpectedly, songs from The Jungle Book. The only mar on this fabulous evening was being covered in earth by a hidden assailant by Hanover Crescent on the stroll home.

Friday, May 12, 2006

insomnia

Insomnia visits about once a year, when my body clock decides that the sleepless nights I've voluntarily put it through are not enough and I could do with one more. Last night was one such night. Despite the yawning, eye rubbing and general sleepiness, my brain, working much like a freight train, continued to roll on. For the second time in seven days I'm running on three hours sleep.

There are times during one of these nights when I can actually feel myself falling asleep. My eyes close and the world gets much darker than normal, my limbs feel heavy and won't move and a blackness descends in my head. Unfortunately this is normally followed by my helpful brain saying, in a wide awake voice, "you're falling asleep, isn't this weird?"

Fortunately last night was missing this most frustrating of insomniatic (you see, now I make up words) problems. My body didn't even try to sleep for many hours, so I fidgeted instead. Fidgeting is almost as bad.

A combination of Kaiser Chiefs, Alabama 3 and the fact that I get to drive to work in the sunshine in a sports car, have all meant that I am at present wide awake. I expect my first caffeine injection to hit home shortly, and from then on the day will pass in a confused fashion, with sense being just beyond my grasp. Oh what joys to look forward to!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

days like these

I'm feeling restless in the sunshine. Instead of being stuck in the office, warm sunlight pouring through the window, I want to be outside, picnicking in Laura Ashley. I'm not quite sure why Laura Ashley. It's not a style that normally comes to mind, but I have suspicisions that I'm finding my romance mojo, and Laura Ashley spells romance.

I'm on my own this morning, and so there isn't the slightest chance of sneaking out to bask in the sunshine. To bring the outside in, I have a large tub of strawberries at my side, which I shall devour (there's another good word) throughout the day. Strawberries are food for the Gods, along with raspberries of course. In my new garden I shall grow them in abundance and descend upon my friends with mountains of the delicious soft red fruits along with tubs on home-made strawberry ice-cream.

Even the scent of strawberries takes me far off into summer, sunburnt skin, barbecue smoke and hot nights when soft sleep takes longer to come. I love spring, with all its freshness and light, but I love the sultriness of summer, the knock of cricket balls and sand in my shoes. In two weeks I'm off to Chelsea and have a couple of days off before the Bank Holiday. To me the late May holiday is the start of summer and whilst not wanting to wish my days away, a part of me can't wait.